Last Updated on September 2, 2019 by

The Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners have hooked up on a few significant trades over the past several years, including the deal that sent right-hander Doug Fister to Detroit, and the last-decade transaction that shipped Carlos Guillen to the Motor City. The two clubs, like most others, have had conversations over the past year or so, though nothing else has come to fruition. The two could once again match up this winter, however.

The Tigers just fell to the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series, to no fault of their starting rotation, of course, but there have been reports suggesting Cy Young favorite Max Scherzer could be shopped this offseason. There are others that Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski could dangle to try and shore up the club’s weaknesses in the bullpen and outfield, and perhaps create more payroll space to fill the few holes the American League Central champs showed this month.

Rick Porcello, RHP
Porcello is arbitration eligible again and is set to earn a healthy raise from the $5.1 million he earned in 2013. He’s free-agent eligible after the 2015 season but could earn as much as $18-20 million over the next two seasons via the arbitration route.

He’s 25 this December and performed well beyond his 4.32 ERA, posting career bests in strikeout ratio (7.22/9 IP), ground ball percentage (55.3) and FIP (3.53), and may be part of Dombrowski’s trade bait.

The Mariners cannot ignore their rotation, despite the presence of Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, or youngsters Taijuan Walker and James Paxton, who appear ready to legitimately compete for a spot in the big-league starting five in March.

It’s worth noting that the two clubs discussed Porcello last offseason.

Austin Jackson, CF
Jackson is also arbitration eligible for two more seasons before free agency and made $3.5 million this past season. He’s a strong defensive center fielder with above-average power, though he will strike out and isn’t of superstar status.

The Tigers aren’t necessarily going to try and deal Jackson, as center field is a difficult spot to fill and it’s not like the club lacks the ability to fund their full payroll, but if they can get package that answers multiple questions and creates additional financial flexibility it’s plausible to think they could make such a move.

If they do so, they’ll either need to acquire a legitimate starting-quality replacement in center in the deal, or be on the trail of the likes of Jacoby Ellsbury via free agency.

Max Scherzer, RHP
I do not see Scherzer, or Tampa Bay’s David Price, for that matter, as a target the Mariners can grab without parting with Walker and then some — which is somewhat counterproductive considering their current state — but there has been chatter that the Tigers could consider moving the CY Young favorite one year before free agency.

Scherzer’s status could impact that of Porcello and Jackson — if the Tigers trade Scherzer, more future funds could be committed to the former pair.

Drew Smyly, LHP
The Mariners would have to view Smyly as a rotation candidate to have serious interest, despite his success in relief for the Tigers the past year and a half, though Detroit could make the same move with the southpaw if they trade Scherzer or Porcello.

The 24-year-old will not be eligible for arbitration for two more seasons, so payroll and salary aren’t factors in the least here — the return package is.

Andy Dirks, OF
Dirks isn’t an everyday player, but as we’ve discussed late this season the Mariners need more legit major leaguers, even those that serve as role players. That’s Dirks. He’s a decent option off the bench versus right-handed pitching and is a solid defensive corner outfielder.

He’s another arbitration eligible as a Super Two this winter, but the salary isn’t much of a deterrent for a part-time player.

I don’t know if the Mariners have exactly what Dombrowski will be looking for in exchange for any of the above players, but the Tigers have pieces that may be available to some extent that GM Jack Zduriencik should have interest in this winter. And all the Mariners have to offer, really, is inexpensive players with a little bit of upside and no salary attached.

There could be a match somewhere, particularly regarding Porcello.

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    The Giants have now inflated the market cost of pitchers and hitters before the World Series has even started. The M’s have money and they better spend it wisely but talent is not coming cheap this off-season.

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    I guess you missed the point. I’m not saying to sign or not sign International players. I’m calling out rjfrik about his comment: “Even if Guerrero doesn’t pan out all the way its nice to know a team is trying to become better by acquiring assets.

    I’m saying if Jack didn’t sign the “right” International players, and none had an impact on the MLB roster, then his comment is BS. He’d be the first in line to jump on Jack, just as he has recently. It’s a nice thing to say, when you don’t have to prove it. But there isn’t a sole here that would be happy if Jack didn’t invest money in the right assets, not just any assets in general, which is the point of his comment. And, yes, I call BS. Be honest about it, rjfrik, like most here, would expect results, not just acquiring assets.

  3. Avatar

    ~sarcasm alert~

    Yeah…..signing international free agents could possibly turn out poorly, and ruin the M’s unbroken record of excellent results the last few years. Jack should avoid these guys, and focus attention on the club’s amazing results.

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    It really feels like there’s going to be a lot more money available this winter than talent. (Kershaw really turned down $300m? How can that be?)
    Hence, I’d rather spend on the #3 potential starter (Lincecum? Maholm?) than move valuable chips.
    Of course, it’s not my money.

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    Walker, Paxton and Maurer are potential dominate pitchiners in the making. That tag can be put on a lot of pitchers. Smyly is a fixture in a weak bullpen, so it’s not likely that the Tigers would deal a strength. Portcello is excess and has more potential value to the Mariners as a starter who should not cost either Walker or Paxton. Jackson would be a nice get, but would probably be a fall-back position for Jack, if he can’t sign Ellsbury (assuming he has any real interest).

    Teams aren’t going to weaken themselves in order to make a deal. The Tigers might be a potential trade partner, but it’s going to be about value, and Seattle needs at least one legitimate starting pitcher, and another *in reserve” option, if Walker and Paxton don’t cut it.

    Not to mention that Seattle isn’t in a position to give up bullpen help, without weakening themselves.

  6. Avatar

    When the M’s did the trade with them last time I hoped the pitcher to named later was going to be Smyly and not Ruffin. Smyly I think is a dominate pitcher in the waiting.

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    ~sarcasm alert ~

    Yes, I’m sure if Jack would have signed Guerrero, and he didn’t meet expectations, you’d have been thanking Jack for at least spending money on International players, because it’s not about results, it’s about keeping up appearances.

  8. You’re assuming nothing else changes on the Tigers’ roster. What are the chances of that? Zero, really.

    And if they land other pieces, which they will, it changes the landscape on other players.

  9. Avatar

    Yes, the Dodgers decided it would be better to pay Guerrero 28 million over for years instead of 200 to 310 million to sign Cano. Look for Guerrero to start at 2nd base next year. Now Cano is running out of places he can go. Maybe Baltimore makes a run at him, but it looks like he will be back with the Yankees now.

    All good points rjfrik. Wish Seattle would do more in the international market, especially with the premium free agents that filter in to the league every year.

    I sure hope Jack has a better “Plan B and plan C” than he did last year. When he gets outbid for Ellsbury, he better have something better to fall back on than old players way past their prime on one year deals…

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    Nobody on the Tigers intrigues me and if the Tigers trade Scherzer to shore up other parts of their team then Smily and Porcello aren’t going anywhere. When you look at it realistically what do we have to trade the Tigers that they would want? The Ms biggest trade chips this offseason are either Franklin or Ackley, we have two second baseman and should flip one of them. The Tigers have Infante at 2b. Unfortunately the M’s really don’t have anything else besides some AAAA arms.

    On another note my Dodgers signed Guerrero from Cuba to shore up the 2b position. It’s nice when your team actually goes out and spends money in the International market to make the team better, Puig, Ryu and now Guerrero. Even if Guerrero doesn’t pan out all the way its nice to know a team is trying to become better by acquiring assets.

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    As much as I’d love to have Austin Jackson on the M’s, I don’t see why the Tigers would look to move him. If they consider the outfield to be a weak point, then moving Jackson makes no sense.

    I think it’s almost guaranteed that the Tigers will work hard to shop one of Smyly and Porcello, though. If the price is right (no top 5 prospects involved), these would be nice acquisitions for the M’s.

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    I would like Porcello too or Smyly.. Hard to see a match though, would Saunders and a BP piece work? Although I look at our team and think we really need to acquire 3 OFers this off season, so trading away Saunders may not make a lot of sense.

  13. Avatar

    Another rational argument, Paul?

  14. Avatar

    With Jack in his second consecutive lame duck season and his past trade flops I am very nervous about any trades he might make. I still thank my lucky stars Upton vetoed the trade last offseason.

    Then you mention the Detroit Tigers as possible trade partners again and I turn from nervous to COMPLETE PANIC!

    You might as well tell me to “bend over” so I can “take another!”

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    Porcello? He’ll yeah! I’ve been hoping the M’s would try to pick him up since his name started to come up in trade rumors. He’s a great candidate to break out with a team with a legitimate defensive infield. Solid #3 inning eater with #2 upside.

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    The young lefty Smyly would look very nice in the M’s rotation. I really don’t know what the M’s could offer to make that happen but I feel he’s going to be a good one for a few years. I know Furbush, Ruffin, Martinez and Wells won’t work.

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